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Performing your own breath test may not prevent a DWI charge

Driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a common offense, and many people don’t even commit it intentionally. One of the effects of alcohol is that it makes it hard to gauge how much it has impaired you and your cognitive function.

You might feel as though you’re still totally sober when in reality you would fail a chemical test because of your blood alcohol concentration BAC. If you commonly drink for business or social reasons, you may sometimes have to make a difficult decision about whether you are safe to drive after a few drinks.

If you have purchased a personal breath test unit to gauge your own sobriety after an evening out, it’s important that you understand that the device may not protect you from a DWI arrest or criminal charges.

Breath test units required maintenance and calibration

Chemical testing is a complex process, and the devices intended to check exhaled human breath for molecules that could be alcohol must be highly accurate in order to produce reliable results.

The complexity of the device means that the user will typically need to maintain it, carefully store it and also occasionally calibrate it for accuracy. There may also be software updates necessary. Finally, parts could malfunction without giving you any warning without stopping the device from functioning.

In other words, the breath test result you get before you get behind the wheel of your vehicle may not match the results an officer gets if they stop you and have you perform a test.

The reliability of breath testing is under fire

Researchers and experts in the legal field have become increasingly skeptical about the usefulness and validity of breath tests as legal evidence. There are many ways for these systems to fail, even when properly maintained by trained law enforcement professionals. A unit that you personally owned or a public device operating in a bar or restaurant could have any number of issues with it that affect how accurate the results are.

Rather than letting a pocket testing unit be the deciding factor about whether you should drive or not, you may need to plan to err on the side of caution by arranging for safe transportation anytime you will have more than one drink while out at a bar or restaurant.

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Travis Noble is a graduate of the National College for DUI Defense at Harvard University, and he lectures at seminars nationwide on DWI/DUI topics. He is the lawyer whom other lawyers consult to defend their DWI clients. Most importantly, he has a track record of successfully defending some of the toughest DWI cases in Missouri and beyond.

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